This last eighteen months in business has taught us that nothing in life is predictable. That we can make grand and glorious plans and at the end of the day, Providence may see fit to change our circumstances in an instant. When muddling through our small business life, what can we do when we are forced to close our doors, when our best customer moves away, when the supplier we have used for years suddenly starts shipping everything months late? We control what we can control.

With only eight weeks until my Ironman, you can bet your bottom dollar my daily regimen is planned out. Which day to ride, swim, run or all of the above. What to eat, how much water to drink and how many stretches and strength exercises to do. Plans are great. They keep us focused on the path to our goals. But what happens when our plans go south?

A few weeks I was scheduled to run and swim. I set out my gear the night before for a 5am wake up Monday morning so I could head right to the pool. However the day before I had been doing an open water swim and strained my shoulder. Monday morning came and the swim wasn’t happening. “Ok”, I thought. “I will just get out and do my run”. So I changed into my running gear and headed out the door. The minute, and I mean the minute, I started running my knee screamed “No” and I knew I was in trouble. Five minutes in I knew that if I wanted to train for the next couple months, I better stop. By now my attitude was in the drain. I was upset, I was angry, in fact I shed a few tears. My plan was not going according to plan!!! It was then that I remembered something my son’s swim coach used to tell the boys: “Control what you can control”. I couldn’t swim, and I couldn’t run but there was one thing I could do without pain – I could bike. And so bike I did. I changed my gear (yet again) and hopped on my bike for my workout.

When you find your plans falling to pieces around you, when the vision of what you wanted your day or week or year to look like starts crumbling like a sandcastle on a hot summer day, how do you react? Do you curl up in a ball, hang your head and cry? Or do you choose to control what you can control?

Here is the funny thing. When we choose to control what we can control, we end up becoming innovative, creative and soon find ourselves creating and moving forward again. No longer do we let outside circumstances dictate our response or achievements, instead we shift focus, shift gears and begin our journey forward, often leading us into an even better place than we would have ended up had everything worked out according to our initial plan.

So here is the challenge: next time you hit a road block think about what you can control and work from there!

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